Salespeople and the Momentum Factor

Momentum seems to be a force when it comes to sales performance.  When Bob gets on a roll, new opportunities fill the pipeline, move along fairly quickly and close at the first opportunity…until the momentum changes.  When Bob goes on vacation, gets distracted, becomes busy with deliverables or gets sick, it’s a whole different Bob.  Suddenly the new opportunities are hard to come by, existing opportunities languish in the pipeline or worse, are removed from the pipeline.

So what can you do about the Bobs that work for you?   Let’s use the bases in Baseline Selling as stages of the pipeline where 1st base is a new suspect (appointment booked), 2nd base is a new prospect (need it, have compelling reasons to buy it, there are compelling reasons to buy from you and you have successfully differentiated your company from the competition), 3rd base is a completely qualified opportunity and home plate represents a closed deal.  If you’re tracking, among other things, the number of new suspects, new prospects and base moves, you will always see the drop-off coming.  When any of those numbers are zeros for a couple of weeks, the momentum has changed and, depending on the length of your sales cycle, you are that many weeks or months from trouble.  Worse, if you wait until that point in the future where the business dries up to do something about the problem, it will be a similar length of time, the length of your sales cycle, before the business begins to come in again.

Your job is to track those numbers, recognize the momentum shift before it causes a problem and manage Bob more closely.  More closely than daily?  Yes!  Hourly if you have to.  How many hitless games does it take before a major league batter is in a slump?  (I couldn’t find an answer so perhaps it’s time to call on Jeff Angus, author of Management by Baseball, and the Management by Baseball Blog, again. The last time I asked him to weigh in he came back with some wonderful statistics and comments.) I’m going to guess that three games, the point at which a hitter would be hitless in his last twelve or so at bats, is a bonafide slump.

What does that hitter do?  Extra batting practice, review videos, and more batting practice.  How is this different from what salespeople, in the midst of a slump, do?

When a momentum shift impacts any of your salespeople, get that salesperson  back into the action!  Get Bob on the phone.  Get Bob in front of customers and prospects.  Force Bob’s hand.  Demand a list of the 20 prospects Bob would contact next and a date for completion.  Listen to Bob on the phone.  Go with Bob into the field.  Get Bob reengaged and hold him accountable.

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.